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May 25, 5:27 PM EDT

Business Highlights


US home equity is back, so why aren't more people borrowing?

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. housing equity now equals 58 percent of home values, the highest such point since 2006. Yet borrowing against that equity has barely budged from post-recession lows, which helps explain why consumer spending remains weak eight years after the Great Recession ended.


Insurers continue to hike prices, abandon ACA markets

People shopping for insurance through the Affordable Care Act in yet more regions will be facing higher prices and fewer choices next year as insurance companies lay out their early plans for 2018. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Thursday it wants a 23 percent price hike next year because it doesn't expect crucial payments from the federal government to continue. A day earlier, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City said it will leave the individual market next year.


Poll: Older Americans want Medicare-covered long-term care

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll says 56 percent of Americans age 40 and over think Medicare should have a major role in paying for ongoing living assistance. That's up from 39 percent who said so in 2013. Majorities of both Democrats and Republicans now think Medicare should bear a large part of the burden. The poll also has other signs of growing support for government involvement in providing long-term care.


Zuckerberg urges Harvard grads to build a world of 'purpose'

NEW YORK (AP) - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Harvard graduates it is up to their generation to create a purpose for today's world, to care about others, to fight inequality and strengthen the global community. Zuckerberg dropped out from the university in 2005 to focus on Facebook. He follows another famous Harvard dropout, Bill Gates, who spoke before its graduates a decade ago. Steve Jobs, who dropped out of Reed College in Oregon, gave Stanford's commencement speech in 2005.


Ford shuffles management team as new CEO takes helm

DETROIT (AP) - Ford Motor Co.'s new CEO is shaking up the company's senior management. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker named a new head of global product development as well as new heads of its operations in North America, Europe and Asia.


Lounges vs. lines: Testing travel with and without perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A trip taken by two Associated Press journalists shows the difference traveling with elite status can make. One sailed past security lines and enjoyed free food in airport and hotel lounges, as well as a hot meal on a two-hour flight. The other took longer to get through security and got peanuts and cranberry juice on the same plane ride. Some of the disparities didn't have a huge effect on an uncrowded day, but might matter more for longer trips or at busier times.


Trump plan to sell off half of oil stockpile sparks debate

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump's proposal to sell nearly half the U.S. emergency oil stockpile is renewing debate over the need for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. An ongoing oil production boom that has seen imports drop sharply in the past decade has people questioning the reserve's future. Trump's budget calls for selling an additional 270 million barrels of oil over the next decade, raising an estimated $16.6 billion.


Winery or 'weedery': Vineyards rip up grapes, switch to pot

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. (AP) - Winemakers in Oregon's remote southwestern corner are planting pot to diversify their agricultural resumes. Some are ripping out portions of grapes in favor of marijuana plants. Others are talking about wine-and-weed tourism. That could include high-end shuttles that would stop at local wineries for tastings and at marijuana farms for glimpses of how pot is prepared for market.


Retailers cheer GOP retreat on ending debit card fees limit

WASHINGTON (AP) - Restaurants, grocers and other businesses celebrated as House Republicans backed off efforts to eliminate the cap on fees that banks can charge retailers when customers use a debit card. Big banks have lobbied strenuously against the cap, and the head of the Financial Services Committee had pushed to scrap it as part of legislation to gut the Dodd-Frank law that was enacted after the financial crisis.


Retailers help send indexes to records on 6th day of gains

NEW YORK (AP) - The Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite set record highs as strong earnings from retailers like Best Buy and PVH help stocks rise for the sixth day in a row. Oil-producing nations said they will extend their production cuts for another nine months, but oil prices plunge.


The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10.68 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,415.07. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 70.53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 21,082.95. The Nasdaq composite jumped 42.23 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,205.26.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost $2.46, or 4.8 percent, to $48.90 a barrel in New York and Brent crude, the international standard, fell $2.50, or 4.6 percent, to $51.46 a barrel in London.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline skidded 4 cents to $1.61 a gallon. Heating oil lost 6 cents to $1.55 a gallon. Natural gas slid 3 cents to $3.18 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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